Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pro-Digital Filmmaker, Anti-Filipino Film-goer

In a feedback article in the Inquirer today, a film student from Cebu is quick to defend Filipino digital filmmakers such as himself, but paradoxically declares his loss of faith in Filipino moviegoers.
Is the Filipino audience still worthy of such a sacrifice? To me, this is the true dark night of Philippine Cinema today, an issue that requires another devil’s advocate.

Me? I have never given up on the Filipino artist, but I have long since given up on the Filipino as a public for art.

Either Eric Tan Florentino has been living under a rock for the past five years, or like my boyfriend, has tendencies to be a "purist" when it comes to his definition of "art."

I don't know about you, but I can barely keep tabs on all sorts of film festivals we have yearly. That these festivals have been wildly popular in the past five years is a clear indication that there is an audience willing to either queue for a long time or pay to see "artsy-fartsy" films.

Film Fest season begins with the French Film fest in July-August and ends with a few more in December. While the French embassy pioneered free film screenings nine or eight years ago, many other embassies have followed suit. The Canadian, Spanish, German, Australian, Italian and the European Union all hold film fests, most for free. We now have the Cinemalaya, the CinemaOne and the Cinemanila.

Now why have these fests become wildly popular in the past few years? Perhaps the Filipino is sick and tired of the usual fare offered by the likes of Mother Lily. Perhaps the Filipino has become more exposed to "exotic" cinema courtesy of piracy.

One thing is for sure Mr. Florentino, don't count the public out. Our definition of "art" may not be as high-brow as yours, but I assure you, we appreciate good film when we see it.

What is "art" anyway? I had an argument once with my boyfriend, an alumnus of Mowelfund, about art films vs. Hollywood flicks. If your film sells like hotcakes does that mean you've sold out? Does it compromise your vision as an artist? On the other hand, if nobody sees your film, what's the point of making it? If your "art" doesn't speak to an audience, then you certainly have a strange notion of what it means to be an "artist."

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